Vladimir Tatlin

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photo of Vladimir Tatlin, 1920

Vladimir Yevgraphovich Tatlin (8 December 1885 – 31 May 1953) was a Soviet painter and architect. With Kazimir Malevich he was one of the two most important figures in the Soviet avant-garde art movement of the 1920's; later he became an important artist in the Constructivist movement. He is most famous for his design for 'The Monument to the Third International'.

Quotes of Vladimir Tatlin[edit]

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes of Vladimir Tatlin
Tatlin, 1913: 'Female Model / Натурщица', oil-painting on canvas; current location: Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow; quote from the diary of Popova: 'After seeing Picasso's Cubist constructions [later in 1913], Tatlin said, he began to work according to other principles [than Cubism]
Tatlin, 1913: a design for 'A Life for the Tsar'
Tatlin, 1916: 'Counter-relief' lacquered mahogany, iron, wood, zinc; current location: Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow: quote of Tatlin, before 1920: 'Let's split open our figures and place the environment inside them..'
Tatlin, 1919: 'Maquette of 'The Monument to the Third International' (often called the 'Tatlin's Tower'); there are models in the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden, at Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow, and at Musée National d'Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris
Tatlin, 1919: 'The Monument to the Third International', a recent-made copy of 'Tatlin's Tower', 1919; location: Moderna Museet Collection - Stockholm; quote of Tatlin, c. 1920's: 'It was to be dynamic, both in its outward form and inward activity..'
Tatlin, 1929-1932: 'Letatlin No. 3' a human-powered ornithopter; current location: Central Air Force Museum, at Monino Airfield, Russia; - quote of Tatlin, c. 1930: 'I too want to give back to man the feeling of flight [with this air-bike, as he called it]. This we have been robbed of by the mechanical flight of the aeroplane. We cannot feel the movement of our body in the air.'

Quotes, 1910 - 1925[edit]

  • In reinforced concrete we have not only a new material but, of far greater consequence, new constructions and a new method for designing buildings. Therefore, in using [reinforced concrete], we have to renounce the old traditions and concern ourselves with meeting new tasks.
    • Quote in: 'Zodchii 19' (1915), p. 198; as quoted by Vasilii Rakitin, in The great Utopia - The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915-1932; Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1992, p. 30
  • Let's split open our figures and place the environment inside them.
    • Quote before 1920; ac cited by Christina Lodder, in Russian Constructivism, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983), 17
  • [iron and glass, the] 'materials of the new Classicism'.
    • Quote, 1921: in Nasha predstoiashchaia rabota,, V. Tatlin, T Shapiro, I. Meerzon, and P. Vinogradov, 'VIII s"ezd sovetov. Ezhednevnyi biulleten' s"ezda 13 (January 1, 1921), p. 11; as cited by Vasilii Rakitin, in The great Utopia - The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915-1932; Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1992, p. 30
  • [to create] A union of purely artistic forms for a utilitarian purpose.. [referring to his Tower / Monument, with a height of 400 meters, but never constructued]
    • Quote, c. 1920; as cited by Camilla Gray, The Russian Experiment in Art: 1863-1922, London: Thames and Hudson, 1962, p. 225
  • It [ [his Tower ] was to be dynamic, both in its outward form and inward activity..
    • Quote, c. 1920's; as cited by Camilla Gray, The Russian Experiment in Art: 1863-1922, London: Thames and Hudson, 1962, p. 226
  • [the task of material culture is] to shed light on the tasks of production in our country, and also to discover the place of the artist-constructor in production, in relation to improving the quality both of the manufactured product and of the organization of the new way of life in general.
    • Quote, May 1924; from Tatlin's lecture on 'Material Culture and Its Role in the Production of Life in the USSR'; as quoted by Larissa A. Zhadova, ed., Tatlin, trans. Paul Filotas et al; Thames and Hudson, London, 1988, p. 252
    • In May 1924, right in the middle of N.E.P., Tatlin offered his synoptic statement of what was still the task of material culture

Quotes, 1926 - 1954[edit]

  • The influence of my art is expressed in the movement of the Constructivists, of which I am the founder – Tatlin.
    • Quoted from a biographical note written by Tatlin in 1929, published in Tatlin', Weingarten; Kunstverlag Weingarten, 1987), p. 328; as quoted by Vasilii Rakitin, in The great Utopia - The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915-1932; Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1992, p. 34
  • The dream [of flying] is as old as Icarus.. .I too want to give back to man the feeling of flight [with his 'Letatlin'-air-bike, 1929-1932]. This we have been robbed of by the mechanical flight of the aeroplane. We cannot feel the movement of our body in the air.
    • quote, c. 1930; [1] cited by Christina Lodder, in Russian Constructivism; Yale University Press, Connecticut, 1983, p. 213
    • The 'Letatlin' was a glider, what Tatlin called an 'air bike', since it would be manually pedaled by the user and contain no motor
  • The engineers made hard forms. Evil. With angles. They are easily broken. The world is round and soft..
    • quote, c. 1930; cited by Christina Lodder, in Russian Constructivism; Yale University Press, Connecticut, 1983, p. 214
    • The 'Letatlin' Tatlin constructed in organic round and oval forms

Quotes about Vladimir Tatlin[edit]

sorted chronologically, by date of the quotes about Vladimir Tatlin
  • [Moscow, Spring of 1914:] Dear Sirs, On the 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th of May this year the studio of Vladimir Tatlin (57 Ostozhenka, apartment 3) will be open from 6 to 8 p.m. for a free viewing of his synthetic-static compositions. In addition, at seven o'clock on the aforementioned days, the Futurist Sergei Podgaevskii will dynamically declaim his latest poetic transrational records.
    • as quoted by Vasilii Rakitin, in The great Utopia - The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915-1932; Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1992, p. 25
  • I am familiar with Tatlin's theatrical designs in which there is a charming and original quality of color and an unusual balancing [ekvilibristika] of line-{illeg.}. Perhaps this is only trickery, but even trickery is already an art, and for this talent is required.
    • Quote from Benua, in his review of the 0.10 exhibition (Dec. 1915/Jan. 1916): "Posledniaia futuristicheskaia vystavka," p. 3.; as quoted by Jane A, Sharp, in Chapter 'The Critical Reception of the 0.10 Exhibition: Malevich and Benua, in The great Utopia - The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915-1932; Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1992, p. 50 - note 15
  • [Tatlin, in a lecture] expressed his dissatisfaction with authorities who did not really support his endeavors to work in industrial concerns.
    • Quote of K. Miklashevskii, 1920's in Hypertrophy in Art, note 37: 37 K; as quoted by Larissa A. Zhadova, ed., Tatlin, trans. Paul Filotas et al; Thames and Hudson, London, 1988, p. 137 n. 35
  • If the idea of the monument [ Tatlin's Tower ] is truly new and valuable, then it will never die. Prophets have not always been stoned and imposters have not always succeeded.
    • In the 'Petrogradskaia Pravda', December 1920, quoted from an undated newspaper clipping in the collection of A. Korsakova, Moscow (transl. Vasilii Rakitin, 1992)
  • An absurd and naive, monstrous beast [ Tatlin's Tower ] with a radio-telegraph horn on its head and the legislative assembly of the Third International in its belly?
    • Quote of N. Radlov, in futurizme, (St. Petersburg: "Akvilon," 1923), p. 48 (transl. Vasilii Rakitin, 1992)
  • The Council of People's Commissars would flee from such a building on the first sunny day and, camped out nearby on the grass, would immediately issue a decree that Tatlin's tower is for rent, at public auction, to horticulturists wishing to grow pineapples.
    • Quote of K. Miklashevskii, in 'Gipertrofiia iskusstva' (Petrograd, 1924), p. 59 (transl. Vasilii Rakitin, 1992)
  • Tatlin does not transcend the confines of Cubism.
    • Quote by Kazimir Malevich c. 1928, in 'The Constructive Painting of Russian Artists and Constructivism', in K. S. Malevich, Essays on Art, ed. Troels Andersen, (transl. Xenia Glowacki-Prus & Arnold McMillin), London: Rapp & Whiting, 1969, vol. 2, pp. 74-84
    • Malevich asked his students and followers to repeat this short sentence after him, during his teachings
  • 'Letatlin' (1929-32) is a flying bird, Tatlin's bicycle, on which one can 'sail' through the air. In artistic circles reactions varied yet all struck basically the same chord: he's flown out of art, - a move into technology..
    • Quote of E. Kronman, in 'Ukhod v tekhniku. Tatlin 1 'Letatlin,' in 'Brigada khudozhnikov 6' (1932), pp. 19-23; cited by Vasilii Rakitin in The great Utopia - The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915-1932; Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1992 - note 73
    • The name 'Letatlin' is a combination of the Russian word 'letat', meaning: 'to fly', and Tatlin's own last name
  • [Tatlin and his 'Letatlin'] an amazing character, but absolutely no artist.
    • Quote of A. Efros, in 'Mastera raznykh epokh', 'Sovetskii khudozhnik, (Moscow, 1979), p. 547; cited by Vasilii Rakitin in The great Utopia - The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915-1932; Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1992 - note 74
  • ['Letatlin' is] not so much.. ..an invention as.. ..a sui-generis work of art
    • quote of N. Frausek, in 'Iskusstvo v tekhniku', 'Tekhnika', April 9, 1932, p. 4; cited by Vasilii Rakitin in The great Utopia - The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915-1932; Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1992 - note 75
  • In her diary, Popova recorded Tatlin's story about how, right before his departure from Paris for Moscow [in 1913], he visited 'Pavel' Picasso himself.. ..(see A. Strigalev, O poezdke Tatlina v Berlin i Parizh, in 'Iskusstvo 2' (1989), pp. 39-43).. .After seeing Picasso's Cubist constructions, Tatlin said, he began to work according to other principles [than Cubism ].
    • Vasilii Rakitin, in The great Utopia - The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915-1932; Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1992, p. 29
  • The Constructivists recklessly spoke of replacing art with life and wanted to make the object of production the object of art. Tatlin built a stove in his room to keep from freezing, sewed a specially tailored coat to keep from shivering in the wind, and cut himself a comfortable work suit. Playing with the industrial production of an object was not the last motivation of the design solutions of the Moscow Constructivists.
    • Vasilii Rakitin, in The great Utopia - The Russian and Soviet Avant-Garde, 1915-1932; Guggenheim Museum, New York, 1992, p. 34

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